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      Hair Loss

      Facts about normal hair growth:

      About 90 percent of hair on the scalp grows continually. The other 10 percent of scalp hair is in a resting phase that lasts two to three months. At the end of the resting stage, this hair is shed.

      Shedding 50 to 100 hairs a day is normal. When a hair is shed, it is replaced by a new hair from the same follicle and the growing cycle starts again. Scalp hair grows about one-half inch a month.

      As people age, the rate of hair growth slows.

      What causes hair loss?

      Hair loss is believed to be primarily caused by a combination of the following:

          * aging
          * change in hormones
          * illness
          * family history of baldness
          * burns
          * trauma

      However, hair loss is not caused by the following:

          * poor circulation to the scalp
          * vitamin deficiencies
          * dandruff
          * excessive hat-wearing
          * a gene passed on from an individual's maternal grandfather

      Generally, the earlier hair loss begins, the more severe the baldness will become.

      Male pattern baldness and heart disease:

      While a receding hairline may be just enough to bother some men, hair loss on top of the head may actually increase the risk of heart disease.

      The latest in a series of studies conducted over the past several years regarding hair loss in men, has confirmed that those men who are balding on the crown of their heads have a 36 percent greater risk of developing coronary heart disease.

      Publishing the results of an 11-year study involving more than 22,000 men in the publication The Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that men with vertex pattern balding, or balding on the top of the head, appeared to be a marker for increased coronary heart disease. This association was even greater for men with hypertension or elevated cholesterol levels.

      Previous studies have pointed to a link between male pattern balding and heart disease, but this study constitutes one of the largest conducted. Researchers also included detailed information about various patterns of balding and used these to identify the risk of developing heart disease in men of all ages.

      The study looked at physicians who were between the ages of 40 and 84 years old who were involved in the Physician's Health Study beginning in 1982, and followed them over an 11-year period. Of the 22,071 US male physicians studied, 19,112 were free of coronary heart disease when the study began.

      Every six months for the first year, and then annually after that, the men were asked to complete follow-up questionnaires to obtain information about new medical conditions and diagnoses. These were confirmed through medical records.

      The researchers defined coronary heart disease events as nonfatal myocardial infarction (heart attack), angina pectoris (chest pain), and/or coronary revascularization (heart bypass surgery and angioplasty). Nearly 1,500 of the men reported one of these coronary events.

      The researchers also looked retrospectively at the pattern of hair loss of the men at the age of 45. Participants were asked on the 11-year follow-up questionnaire to choose from options that included no hair loss, frontal baldness only, or frontal baldness with mild, moderate, or severe vertex (crown of the head) baldness.

      What they found was that men whose crowns were completely bald had a 36 percent greater risk of having one of the coronary events; men with moderate crown balding had a 32 percent greater risk; those with mild balding of the crown were at a 23 percent greater risk; and men with frontal balding had a 9 percent greater risk of coronary events.

      In addition, men who were balding and had hypertension were at nearly twice the risk for heart disease, and those with high cholesterol had nearly three times the risk, when compared to non-balding men with the same conditions.

      Always consult your physician for more information.